In the same afternoon Senate Republicans revealed their new $1 Trillion coronavirus relief package, President Trump travelled to Morrisville, North Carolina to tour a facility working on a vaccine. The vaccine progress, called “Operation Warp Speed,” is with the hope to finally beat the virus, and get the United States’ economy fully functional by the end of the year. Trump wants to deliver a vaccine, “in record time.”
Speaking in front of the biotech facility, FUJIFILM Diosyth Biotechnologies, Trump first mentioned that Moderna is already in phase III of clinical trials. While the president was in North Carolina, VP Mike Pence traveled to Florida, where Moderna is working with the University of Miami to conduct a 30,000 person study for a vaccine. Pence told reporters in Florida the first batch of vaccines will go to the most vulnerable Americans, and in particular, senior citizens. As the virus continues to spike around the United States, the White House is trying to develop a vaccine far ahead of schedule, especially if there is a second wave this winter. The Trump administration has already spent billions of dollars on the vaccine effort, which included checks to Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson.
In a busy afternoon for the administration as they rein in their coronavirus messaging, Senate Republicans introduced their relief bill they hope to pass before the August recess. The bill cuts the $600 per week unemployment insurance to $200 per week, but does provide one-time stimulus checks again. The bill also gives $100 Billion to schools with the purpose to reopen in September in a safe way. Republicans said the decreased unemployment insurance should act as a “bridge.” Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke in response to the backlash for the unemployment insurance reduction, stating, “Republicans want to continue a federal supplement to state unemployment insurance. In fact, we’ll propose a weekly dollar amount that is eight times what Democrats put in place when they controlled the White House and Congress in the Great Recession.” McConnell said that where America is presently, we are at a crossroads, and Americans need help. He said that this help needs to be tailored, instead of a blanket amount of money for insurance.
The unemployment insurance has been the most controversial part of the bill, as many Republicans argued this is an incentive for people to not go back to work, and for employers not to hire. As unemployment numbers continue to soar while the economy stays pretty much shutdown, the federal and state government differ in how much the government should spend to provide relief.